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Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative

Devon Porter ’15: A Fellowship Summer in Strasbourg and Morocco
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The Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative, established at Yale Law School in 2008, was designed to provide support for human rights leaders at all stages of their careers: from first-year law students; to recent law school graduates; to senior human rights scholars and practitioners. The unifying goal of the Robina Initiative is to foster and support a commitment to international human rights, by leveraging the robust international human rights community that already exists at the Law School. The Initiative supports four types of Robina scholarships and fellowships that are critical to the continued strength of the human rights program at the Yale Law School:

Robina Human Rights Initiative JD Scholars

Each year, the Law School selects approximately ten JD students on the basis of financial need and interest in human rights to receive Robina Human Rights Scholarships. A total of 55 students have benefited from Robina Foundation support toward their tuition costs. A significant majority of the Robina JD Scholars who have graduated from the Law School have secured jobs or fellowships in the international human rights field. The Robina Initiative has been critical in allowing this group of JD students to pursue their commitment to human rights through their studies and extracurricular experiences.

Kirby Simon Summer Human Rights Fellowships Supported by the Robina Initiative

The Robina Initiative fully funds the Kirby Simon Summer Human Rights Fellowships, which enable current Yale students to spend their law school summers working throughout the world in the field of human rights. More than 150 Summer Human Rights Fellows – including, in recent years, roughly one-fifth of the Law School’s first-year class – have traveled to dozens of different countries, working on a wide array of issues at a range of institutions, including international criminal tribunals, various UN agencies, the constitutional courts of a number of countries, and international and local non-governmental organizations on every continent.

The Summer Human Rights Fellowship supported by the Robina Foundation has become a cornerstone of the human rights program at the Yale Law School. It provides students with a singularly enriching and illuminating experience that helps them begin to build paths toward public service promoting human rights and justice.

Robina Initiative Post-Graduate Human Rights Fellows

The Robina Foundation Post-Graduate Human Rights Fellowships were designed to enable several recent graduates of the Law School to work full time in the field of human rights for up to a year. Robina Human Rights Fellows secure foreign and international judicial clerkships or internships with international tribunals and inter-governmental or governmental agencies. They may also receive the fellowship to carry out independent human rights research projects. Since the establishment of the Robina Initiative, a total of 13 Robina Human Rights Fellows have had the opportunity to start their human rights careers in such settings as the appeals chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, the chambers of justices on the South African Constitutional Court, and U.N. and U.S. government agencies concerned with human rights.

Financial pressures and the experience requirements for the limited number of jobs in human rights make it difficult for recent law-school graduates to enter the field. The Robina Human Rights Fellowships offer them that chance and allow them to gain the knowledge and experience they need to build their careers in human rights.

Robina Initiative Visiting Human Rights Fellows

The Robina Initiative enables the Law School to invite human rights scholars and practitioners to spend time in residence at the Law School. They carry out their own research, teach courses, give talks and interact with students and faculty. During the last three years, Robina Visiting Human Rights Fellows have taught seventeen courses at the Law School. They have significantly enriched the curriculum of the Law School in the areas of international law and human rights.

The Robina Visiting Fellows, by hosting discussions, delivering lectures, participating in conferences, advising students and publishing scholarship—have a valuable impact both inside and outside the Law School, contributing to human rights discourse throughout Yale University and in the wider community of human rights scholars and advocates. They inject vibrancy and freshness into the intellectual life of the Law School and the larger world while themselves taking advantage of a period of intellectual renewal and  professional development.

The 2013-2014 Robina Visiting Human Rights Fellows are:

Tom Dannenbaum
Lucas Guttentag

Tienmu Ma ’14: Protecting Human Rights in Kosovo
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